reference

noun
ref·​er·​ence | \ ˈre-fərn(t)s , ˈre-f(ə-)rən(t)s\

Definition of reference

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : the act of referring or consulting
2 : a bearing on a matter : relation in reference to your recent letter
3 : something that refers: such as
b : something (such as a sign or indication) that refers a reader or consulter to another source of information (such as a book or passage)
c : consultation of sources of information
4 : one referred to or consulted: such as
a : a person to whom inquiries as to character or ability can be made
b : a statement of the qualifications of a person seeking employment or appointment given by someone familiar with the person
c(1) : a source of information (such as a book or passage) to which a reader or consulter is referred
(2) : a work (such as a dictionary or encyclopedia) containing useful facts or information

reference

adjective

Definition of reference (Entry 2 of 3)

: used or usable for reference especially : constituting a standard for measuring or constructing

reference

verb
referenced; referencing

Definition of reference (Entry 3 of 3)

transitive verb

1a : to supply with references
b : to cite in or as a reference
2 : to put in a form (such as a table) adapted to easy reference

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Synonyms for reference

Synonyms: Noun

authority, source

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Examples of reference in a Sentence

Noun

references to an earlier event The numbers were calculated by reference to the most recent census. Reference to a map will make the position clear. She listed her former teacher as a reference when she applied for the job. Her former teacher gave her a reference when she applied for the job. Her teacher gave her a letter of reference.

Adjective

a list of reference materials

Verb

The book references many other authors who have written on this topic.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Black’s son being involved may help explain certain aspects of the video, including references to multiple inside jokes PewDiePie fans would understand (such as the chair Black is sitting on). Julia Alexander, The Verge, "Jack Black is launching a new YouTube channel mostly dedicated to gaming," 26 Dec. 2018 The brand showed off the costume with a suit jacket and numbered briefcase, likely in reference to Markle's pre-princess days on Suits and Deal or No Deal, which are not included in the $50 price tag. Zoe Weiner, Allure, "There’s Now a Sexy Halloween Costume Inspired by Meghan Markle’s Royal Wedding Dress," 15 Oct. 2018 Editor's note: This story has been corrected from an earlier version that included one reference to the primary planet of the potential exomoon as WASP-1625b. Mike Wall, Space.com, "First Exomoon Found? Neptune-Sized World Possibly Spotted Orbiting Alien Planet," 3 Oct. 2018 Any references to Lost Land Lake must now include the story of the lost, found and returned rod. Paul A. Smith, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Smith: Extraordinary musky fishing tale, verified and true, comes to happy ending," 11 July 2018 Here's the Breitling commercial both People and ET reference: Theron and Penn split in June 2015. Christopher Rosa, Glamour, "So About the Rumor That Charlize Theron and Brad Pitt Are Dating...," 22 Jan. 2019 In order to make sense of this information a reference model like the WMM is needed to correct the measurements of magnetic north made by your phone to True North. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "The Government Shutdown Is Messing with North," 15 Jan. 2019 Subtle personal references appear throughout, including a sofa Ryan designed for the Interior Define furniture company and a portrait of his daughter, Ursula, in period costume. Erin Geiger Smith, House Beautiful, "Apartment Therapy's Maxwell Ryan's Home Is An Awesome Mix Of Scandinavian And Barnhouse Chic," 9 Jan. 2019 This is a smart series that combines slapstick humor and witty dialogue with cutting-edge science and the odd literary reference. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "The Orville blends science fiction and science fact into a winning mix," 29 Dec. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The strongest looks in the show were those that directly referenced the winter theme. Laird Borrelli-persson, Vogue, "Jean Paul Gaultier Embroiders With Snow," 30 Dec. 2018 But there was a footnote in the FISA application that referenced some opponent of the president's, might have been. Fox News, "Jordan, Meadows ask Trump to declassify Carter Page docs," 6 Sep. 2018 The same goes for any costumes that reference immigration issues — other people's real struggles are not costume fodder. Marci Robin, Good Housekeeping, "15 Offensive Halloween Costumes You Should Never Wear," 1 Aug. 2018 West Virginia prohibits elected officials from sharing communication that references voting in favor of a candidate. Washington Post, "Iowa politicians scurry to comply with ban on self-promotion," 27 June 2018 House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., pushed back against Waters in a Monday morning tweet that referenced a news story about her colleague's comments. Avi Selk And John Wagner, chicagotribune.com, "Rep. Maxine Waters condemned for urging public harassment of Trump officials," 25 June 2018 There are moments that reference classic Hollywood cinema, and glowing, sumptuous close-ups of our hero and heroine, Owen (Chris Pratt) and Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard). Katie Walsh, kansascity, "‘Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom’: Dinosaurs on the loose overrun a puny story," 21 June 2018 Bono wore a top hat and acted the flamboyant master of ceremonies, even reviving his devilish MacPhisto character from the 1990s in a monologue that referenced President Trump and Kim Jong Un. Dan Deluca, Philly.com, "U2 keeps the faith with spectacularly staged 'Experience + Innocence' show at the Wells Fargo Center," 14 June 2018 Speculation in the area mounted in February when Bremner Real Estate, in coordination with Ambrose, circulated a letter to homeowners that referenced a $1 billion medical campus with a large in-patient hospital. Shari Rudavsky, Indianapolis Star, "St. Vincent Health withdraws plans for Carmel site," 5 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'reference.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of reference

Noun

1579, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Adjective

1856, in the meaning defined above

Verb

1876, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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Statistics for reference

Last Updated

13 Feb 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for reference

The first known use of reference was in 1579

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More Definitions for reference

reference

noun

English Language Learners Definition of reference

 (Entry 1 of 3)

: the act of mentioning something in speech or in writing : the act of referring to something or someone
: the act of looking at or in something for information
: a person who can be asked for information about another person's character, abilities, etc.

reference

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of reference (Entry 2 of 3)

: used to find information about something
: used to tell people where information can be found

reference

verb

English Language Learners Definition of reference (Entry 3 of 3)

: to mention (something or someone) in speech or in writing : to refer to (something or someone)

reference

noun
ref·​er·​ence | \ ˈre-fə-rəns , ˈref-rəns\

Kids Definition of reference

1 : the act of looking at or in something for information Reference to a map will make our location clear.
2 : a relation to or concern with something I am writing in reference to your advertisement.
3 : the act or an instance of mentioning They made no references to my error.
4 : a work (as a dictionary) that contains useful information
5 : something that refers a reader to another source of information
6 : a person who can be asked for information about another person's character or ability
7 : a written statement about someone's character or ability

reference

adjective
ref·​er·​ence | \ ˈref-(ə-)rən(t)s \

Medical Definition of reference

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: of known potency and used as a standard in the biological assay of a sample of the same drug of unknown strength a dose of reference cod-liver oil

reference

Medical Definition of reference (Entry 2 of 2)

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reference

noun
ref·​er·​ence | \ ˈre-frəns, -fə-rəns \

Legal Definition of reference

1 : an act of referring specifically : mention or citation of one document (as a statute) in another a municipality may adopt by reference all or a part of this title Alaska Statutes — see also incorporate
2 : a referral especially to a legislative committee or master also : an order referring a matter to a master the extent to which any party is more responsible than other parties for the reference to a master Federal Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 53(g)

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Comments on reference

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excited commotion or publicity

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